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Rushing to Padmasana

My students seem to try too quickly to achieve poses related to Padmasana (Lotus Pose). How can I assess whether a student is ready to advance from Vrksasana (Tree Pose), with the foot on the inside thigh, to Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana (Half-Bound Half-Lotus Forward Bend)? In my own practice, I ignored "pressure" in the knee—the signs were subtle, and I tore my meniscus before I figured it out. I'd like to help my students avoid the same injury. What poses can I use to assess whether a student's hips are open enough?

Lastly, how you bring the foot into the position is important. Look to see that the student is not sickling the foot. The foot and ankle need to be neutral, not overstretching the outer or inner ankle. It is important to develop the habit of holding the foot from underneath and not grabbing it from the top, which is aggressive and can put pressure on the knee. The heel should lift up toward the ceiling and press away from the knee. This comes from the hips.

There are many safe hip openers that you can teach your students to add to their practice. I often give my stiffer students extra homework: I have them practice Virabhadrasana II more often, and I have them repeat Utthita Parsvakonasana.

"Thread the Needle" is useful to add to the end of a practice, as is sitting in Sukhasana and folding forward.

Maty Ezraty has been teaching and practicing yoga since 1985, and she founded the Yoga Works schools in Santa Monica, California. Since the sale of the school in 2003, she has lived in Hawaii with her husband, Chuck Miller. Both senior Ashtanga teachers, they lead workshops, teacher trainings, and retreats worldwide.

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